WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#gardens–Historic Hotels of America® has a unique collection of the most beautiful, prestigious, and iconic golf courses where many champions have learned to play golf, competed, and made history. Many of these golf courses were designed in the late 19th and early 20th century, often referred to as the “Golden Age” of golf course architecture. These historic golf courses were designed and built by legendary golf course architects – many of whom are World Golf Hall of Fame inductees – ranging from “Golden Age” architect Donald Ross to more recent legends, such as Pete Dye. Each course has earned its reputation, in part, based on the many famous people who have played including U.S. Presidents, world leaders, golf champions, film and entertainment celebrities, and famous inventors and industrialists. The golf courses named to the 2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Historic Golf Courses list are some of America’s most historic greens. Today, guests can make their own history, stay, and play where champions have played.
Learn more about the following Top 25 and the Short Nine (honorable mentions) at Historic Hotels of America. Discover the global history of golf, too, in the 2022 Top 12 Historic Hotels Worldwide Most Historic Golf courses list that was also announced this week by Historic Hotels Worldwide®.
The Omni Homestead Resort (1766) Hot Springs, Virginia
Travelers are invited to tee off at the oldest first tee in continuous use in the United States at The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. The Homestead Resort was established in 1766 and its first tee is part of the aptly named Old Course, which opened in 1892 as a six-hole course. The Old Course was expanded to nine holes by 1898, and famed golf course designer Donald Ross expanded the course to 18 holes in 1913. Ross had trained at St. Andrews in the 1890s, and then spent most of his career and life in the United States, where he designed many of the country’s greatest courses during the Golden Age of Golf. His influence on the game and its architecture continues to this day, on his historic courses and on new courses his designs inspired. The Old Course is long associated with U.S. presidents. William McKinley was the first U.S. President to play golf while in office (1897–1901) and he did so on the Old Course, teeing-off at the Old Tee in 1899. Former President (1909–1913) and former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1921–1930) William Howard Taft adored the Old Course, making time to play in the middle of a Virginia State Bar Association conference in 1908. Dwight D. Eisenhower visited the resort before he was elected President, again during his second term, and after retirement from office. He especially enjoyed playing golf, which had been prescribed by his physicians as part of his rehabilitation from heart trouble. Today, the presidential favorite is open to guests and members.
Tubac Golf Resort and Spa (1789) Tubac, Arizona
The Tubac Golf Resort and Spa, located on the Santa Cruz River in Tubac, Arizona, was founded in 1959 by a group of investors – including entertainer Bing Crosby – who purchased a historic Spanish-colonial ranch (established in 1789) to be the site of a luxury resort hotel. Its first 18-hole golf course opened the same year. The mid-century course was designed by renowned golf course architect Robert ‘Red’ Lawrence. That original course has been hailed as the “Jewel of Southern Arizona Golf Courses.” Red was a founding member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and designed several famous courses throughout the country. The architectural beauty of the resort, set with a backdrop of the distant Santa Rita Mountains and the local cattle ranch, gives the game played there a unique charm. The Santa Cruz River provides a surprisingly lush landscape, with plenty of ponds and tall cottonwood trees. In 1996, its beauty was recognized by Hollywood as the setting for iconic scenes in Kevin Costner’s golf movie, Tin Cup. In 2006, the resort expanded to 36 holes in total. The historic 18-hole course transformed into three distinct nine-hole courses: The Otero, the Anza, and the Rancho. Today, the resort invites locals and travelers to play its three desert oasis courses. The design allows golfers to choose two nine-hole courses for an 18-hole game, for three different golfing experiences on the grounds of the historic course.
Woodstock Inn & Resort (1793) Woodstock, Vermont
Golf at the Woodstock Inn & Resort, founded in 1793, in Woodstock, Vermont, dates to 1895, when a distinguished guest lamented to the general manager about the lack of a golf course, as he had brought his clubs all the way from Boston. The inn obliged and the first course was built that year. The resort’s currently in-use golf course dates to 1906 and it is the oldest public golf course in Vermont. In the early 1960s, the course was redesigned by notable golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., under the direction of the inn’s new owner, Laurence S. Rockefeller. Rockefeller was a great fan of golf, and he and his wife, Woodstock-native Mary French, enjoyed playing the course together when they were in Vermont. Jones, a creative and prolific golf designer, oversaw the construction of other mid-century courses at Rockefeller’s remarkable Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and burgeoning Colonial Williamsburg Resort around the same time. Today, surrounded by the lush Kedron Valley and featuring stunning views of Mount Peg, the Woodstock, Vermont, golf course is a picturesque venue set amidst an unspoiled landscape. The 18-hole course boasts a par 70 layout that offers an unforgettable experience for golfers of all abilities.
Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa (1806) Bedford, Pennsylvania
The Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa was established in 1806 and, naturally, was an early adopter of golf in the United States. The resort is home to one of the nation’s first golf courses, with 18 holes first designed by Spencer Oldham in 1895. It was considered to be a very large golf course when it was first built. Aptly named, the Bedford Springs Old Course was redesigned by A.W. Tillinghast in 1912 and again reimagined by the renowned golf course architect Donald Ross in 1923. Giants of the Golden Age of golf course architecture, both Tillinghast and Ross are honored by the World Golf Hall of Fame. Ross had trained at St. Andrews in the 1890s, and then spent most of his career and life in the United States, where he designed many of the continent’s championship courses. His influence on the game and its architecture continues to this day, on his historic courses and on new courses his designs inspired. The Bedford Springs Old Course was renovated in 2007 by architect Ron Forse. Forse used documentation from the early 20th century to restore lost holes and other historical features contributed by Oldham, Tillinghast, and Ross. Preserved and updated, this remarkable palimpsest course can be enjoyed today by 21st-century players eager to experience the game as it was designed by leading architects of the game’s Golden Age.
Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection, and Colonial Houses (1750) Williamsburg, Virginia
The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club has been honoring the classic traditions of the game since 1963 while offering modern amenities for today’s golf enthusiasts. Designed by father-and-son duo Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Rees Jones, the 45 walkable holes are surrounded by mature woodlands and a short stroll from the largest living history museum in the world, Colonial Williamsburg. Guests at any Colonial Williamsburg Resort hotel in Williamsburg, Virginia, are invited to play golf at the resort’s Golden Horseshoe Golf Club. Two of the resort’s hotels have been inducted into Historic Hotels of America: Williamsburg Inn (1937) and Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection, and Colonial Houses (1750). The game of golf at Colonial Williamsburg Resorts dates at least to 1947, when a nine-hole course entertained guests of the Williamsburg Inn. In 1963, with an investment from the Rockefeller family, prolific golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., updated that course—creating the nine-hole Spotswood Course—and added a new 18-hole championship Gold Course. Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s son, Rees Jones designed the acclaimed Green Course nearly 30 years later. Choosing the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club supports the educational mission of the non-profit Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating all peoples about history, as well as about the connections between past and present.
French Lick Springs Hotel (1845) French Lick Springs, Indiana
West Baden Springs Hotel (1902) West Baden, Indiana
Golf and history enthusiasts are in for a treat at French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana, which boasts three courses designed by three greats of 20th-century golf course design. Notably, the resort’s most historic golf course – on account of its age, closeness to the original form, and the distinction of its designer – is The Donald Ross Course. Designed in 1917 by Donald Ross, who is considered one of the greatest and most influential course architects of the game’s Golden Age, this course was an immediate success. The resort first hosted the PGA Championship in 1924, won by Walter Hagen. Hagen played a major role in popularizing the game as a professional sport and was the first golfer to become a millionaire playing the game. The course has hosted LPGA championships and Senior PGA events in the years since. Along with the greats of the game, world-class golf has attracted scores of celebrities to French Lick over the years, including singer Bing Crosby, comedian Bob Hope, business magnate Howard Hughes, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and professional football player Peyton Manning. Before he became basketball’s “Larry Legend,” French Lick native Larry Bird worked and played on the French Lick golf course in his youth. The French Lick Resort encompasses two historic hotels, The French Lick Hotel (1845) and the West Baden Springs Hotel (1902), where guests have access to the Donald Ross Course as well as courses designed by Pete Dye (2009) and Tom Bendelow (1907).
The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection (1847) Point Clear, Alabama
Golf course architect Perry Maxwell designed an 18-hole championship golf course for the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa in Point Clear, Alabama, in 1947—the Grand Hotel’s centennial, as it was established in 1847. After World War II, a long-awaited retreat to the Mobile Bay resort offered weary Americans a chance to play Maxwell’s brand new 7,104 yards of oak-lined links. It was a grand success. Another nine holes were added, first in 1967 and again in 1983. Today, there are two 18-hole golf courses at the resort’s Lakewood Club: The Dogwood Course and the Azalea Course. Since 1947, the Lakewood Club has hosted former President Gerald Ford, European royalty, movie stars, and sports legends, along with legions of local and visiting golfers. The Kenny Stabler Charity Golf Classic was held at the Lakewood Club for several years and hosted a who’s-who of professional football players and other celebrities. The Dogwood Course is well-kept and cared for: It was renovated in 2005 by the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Team and again in 2018, all to give it a fresh and modern feel while retaining Maxwell’s vision for the course. In 2021, the Dogwood Course was the site of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur championship, one of 14 championship tournaments run by the United States Golf Association.
The Sagamore Resort (1883) Bolton Landing, New York
The championship Sagamore Golf Course at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, New York, features fairways that are lush, narrow, and lined with hardwood, with deep bunkers surrounding undulating greens. The Sagamore Resort was established in 1883 and “Golden Age” golf course architect Donald Ross designed a golf course adjacent to the resort in 1928. The resort purchased it a year later, and at a discount due to the harsh economic effects wrought from the onset of the Great Depression. Most of the money used to obtain Ross’ course came from a wealthy entrepreneur who regularly vacationed at the resort. Ross’ beautiful series of fairways attracted countless guests from both New York City and Boston. All who arrived found its beautiful 18-hole, par 70 greens to be absolutely astounding. Contemporary players should look up when they reach the first hole; Ross designed it with the view in mind. While the resort hotel is on an exclusive island on Lake George, the golf course is located directly across the water on the mainland. The location gives guests access to a championship course with stunning views of Lake George and the Adirondack mountains. The course uses the natural environment to give each hole its challenge and beauty, thanks to Ross’s careful design.
Basin Harbor (1886) Vergennes, Vermont
The historic Basin Harbor golf course was installed at the Basin Harbor resort in Vergennes, Vermont, in 1927. The historic resort itself was founded over forty years earlier, in 1886. Designed by Alex ‘Nipper’ Campbell, a Scottish player most famous for his five top-10 finishes in the United States Open in the early 20th century, the course is the only lakeside course in the Green Mountain State. The course was redesigned twice after Campbell built the first nine holes: first by golf course architect William Mitchell in 1955, who expanded the course to 18 holes, and then again by world-renowned architect Geoffrey Cornish in the 1980s. Today, it retains a few of its original Campbell holes and Basin Harbor’s 18-hole championship course is a delight for any golfer with its rolling terrain, well-placed bunkers, beautiful trees, and contoured fairways. The course was the first in Vermont to become a sanctioned Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Golf Course, a program that is dedicated to preserving natural resources and enhancing wildlife habitats. While the golf course has seen many iterations in the past 100 years, it still maintains its Golden Age charm with gentle rolling fairways and fescue framed green complexes.
Jekyll Island Club Resort (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia
The Jekyll Island Club Resort on Jekyll Island, Georgia, began as an exclusive Gilded Age private retreat for America’s wealthiest families in 1886. Today, the barrier island resort community is open to all and welcomes golfers to play on its four grassy, wind-swept courses as they have for over 120 years. The first golf course at Jekyll Island Club was constructed in 1898. The most historic golf course still in play on the island is the nine-hole, par 36 Great Dunes Course designed by Walter “Old Man” Travis in 1926. Travis was a championship amateur golfer, an Australian immigrant to the United States who worked as a writer between winning British, U.S., and Cuban tournaments. Summoned to the Island by some of the nation’s most elite families during the Club Era, Travis created the best course money could buy. In golf history, along with hosting notable figures and golf championships, Jekyll Island is significant because the United States Golf Association chose it as the site for equipment testing. In 1924, the USGA tested new steel clubs against the traditional hickory clubs. The Association also tested golf ball sizes and densities. These tests on Jekyll Island’s courses changed the game of golf.
Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, provides guests of the Lake Huron luxury resort a stunning 18-hole golf course. The Jewel, comprised of the Grand Nine and the Woods Nine, is the only course in the country with horse-drawn carriage rides between nines. The Grand Nine, located across from the hotel with views of the Straits of Mackinac, was designed in 1901 by golf links artist Tom Bendelow. The Grand Nine was redesigned during Grand Hotel’s centennial in 1987 by golf course architect Jerry Matthews. In 1994, Matthews enlarged the golf course with the Woods Nine, located in the interior of Mackinac Island with views of the Mackinac Bridge and the Upper Peninsula. Among the many sports champions and notable figures who have played the Jewel include 1987 U.S. Open Championship winner Scott Simpson, sports announcer Jim Nantz, and former U.S. President Gerald Ford. Ford himself was fond of Mackinac Island throughout his life, with his first visit taking place all the way back during his youth in the 1920s. (He specifically served as an Eagle Scout at the Mackinac Island State Park Commission’s Scout Service Camp.) As such, Ford returned frequently while on vacation, engaging in activities like sampling fresh candy at Mary’s Fudge, touring Fort Mackinac, and playing a round or two at The Jewel.
Pinehurst Resort (1895) Pinehurst, North Carolina
From humble beginnings as a pasture to one of the premier golf courses in the country, Pinehurst Resort is steeped in the sport’s history and tradition. Historians and golfers today celebrate Pinehurst Resort for its role in popularizing golf and providing blueprints for what a golf course should look like during the Gilded Age. Pinehurst Resort’s founder, James Walker Tufts, hired the renowned golf course architect Donald Ross to oversee the day-to-day operations of its golfing services. Ross went on to design four of Pinehurst Resort’s nine championship golf courses in play today, including its most famous course, Pinehurst No. 2, which was constructed in 1907. Pinehurst No. 2 has served as the site for more championship tournaments than any other golf course in the United States. Among the many well-known competitions held at Pinehurst No. 2 are the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup, and the U.S. Open, as well as the North and South Open Championship. Dozens of famous professional golfers have graced its fairways including Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus. The historic greens of Pinehurst No. 2 saw the legendary duel between Payne Stewart and Phil Mickelson during the closing round of the 1999 U.S. Open. The two were neck-and-neck heading into the last two holes of the tournament. Stewart stuck his approach to four feet on 17 for birdie, then holed a dramatic 15-foot putt on the 72nd hole to win the championship, beating Mickelson by one shot.
Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods (1902) Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
History can be found everywhere in the hotel and on the golf courses at the Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The resort has offered luxury accommodation and golf adventures in the hills west of the magnificent Presidential Mountain Range for over 100 years. The resort’s earliest course is the Mount Pleasant Course, which opened in the region in 1895. It was designed by Scottish golf course architect Alex Findlay, who also spent some time competing as a professional player. The Mount Pleasant Course has nine holes – par 35 and just over 3,000 yards of green – that have been played by guests and champions alike, including U.S. Pro Golfer Gilbert Nicholls, British Golf Champions Harry Vardon and J.W. Taylor, and U.S. Open Golf Champion Willie Anderson. The course was updated by Cornish & Silva Golf Course Architects, with advice from world-renowned golfers Gene Sarazen and Ken Venturi in 1989. The second historic course at Bretton Woods is the Mount Washington Course: an 18-hole, par 72, 7,004-yard-course that was designed by legendary golf course architect Donald Ross, who completed the project in 1915. Since opening, it has hosted four New Hampshire Opens and, recently, the New England Open Championship. It was renovated in 2008 by architect Brian Silva, who restored it to its original 1915 design.
The Otesaga Resort Hotel (1909) Cooperstown, New York
Considered one of the region’s most scenic and challenging golf courses, the historic Leatherstocking Golf Course at The Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, New York, sweeps along the southern shore of Lake Otsego. Designed by golf course architect Devereux Emmet, the Leatherstocking Course opened in 1909 – the same year the hotel was established – and retains Emmet’s original design. Emmet designed as many as 150 golf courses in his career and was an award-winning amateur player as well. While many of Emmet’s designs have been lost over the years, a round on Leatherstocking offers a chance to play one of his finest. Among many standout features are two great finishing holes: hole 17 par 3 playing up to 195 yards over water, and hole 18 par 5 with an island tee and the fairway along the lake. What began as a nine-hole course was transformed in 1919 by legendary golf architect Devereux Emmet, who expanded the course to 18 holes across 90 acres. This classic, Northeast-style course has changed little since then, though the late 1990s brought some upgrades including expanded tee boxes, a state-of-the-art drainage system, restructured cart paths, and reshaped bunkers. The course is also recognized for environmental excellence as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and the course hosts a golf tournament for the Hall of Famers annually during the Hall of Fame induction weekend. Baseball Hall of Famers including Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, who famously enjoyed the game as a hobby, have played the course.
The Omni Grove Park Inn (1913) Asheville, North Carolina
The historic Grove Park Golf Course at The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, has been described as the only rival to Pinehurst No. 2 in a ranking of the state’s Donald Ross courses. The 18-hole, par 70, 6,400-yard course clears a bright green path through the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and elevated points give players spectacular views of the mountains and the magnificent Arts and Crafts-style historic hotel. The course opened in 1899 and was beautifully redesigned in 1926 by golf course architect Donald Ross. The Grove Park Inn opened in 1913. Ross was a Scottish-born immigrant who trained as a young man with the great “Old” Tom Morris at St. Andrews during the 1890s. He then spent much of his career and life in the United States, where he designed many of the world’s championship courses during the Golden Age of golf course architecture. His iteration of the Grove Park Golf Course was a stop on the PGA (Professional Golf Association) Tour between 1933 and 1951. It was played by PGA stars Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus, and more recently by former President Barack Obama – one of ten U.S. presidents to stay at the resort. The Grove Park course was updated in 2001 and retains master designer Donald Ross’s vision.
The Broadmoor (1918) Colorado Springs, Colorado
Known as the “Grand Dame of the Rockies,” The Broadmoor offers two historic and magnificent golf courses nestled in the Rocky Mountains: The East Course and the West Course, designed by Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones Sr. Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, golfers enjoy challenging terrain and amazing mountain vistas while surrounded by red rocks and white peaks in the Pike’s Peak region. The Broadmoor opened in 1918 and golf was part of its glamour from the beginning. The resort’s original 18-hole course was designed by legendary golf course architect Donald Ross in 1916 at the behest of Spencer Penrose, who envisioned turning his new rough, mountain getaway into a world-class resort. Ross, who had designed golf courses for several of the top clubs in the country (including Pinehurst No.
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